Oil painting by Barry Kent MacKay.
My oil painting shows an adult Green Heron (Butorides virescens) with a nestling who has left the nest a little early, as often happens with herons.
This crow-sized heron is reasonably common, but often overlooked by non-birders, and compared with other heron species, can be rather solitary, and more active at dusk or dawn or nocturnally, as a rule, than during daylight. They like wooded areas, often nesting near the ground in thick foliage, such as Eastern (Northern) White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis). They are also, in common with other herons, shape-changers, in that they can have their neck folded in close to the body, as I’ve shown in my painting, or stretch it out far enough to make up about half the body length, or have it partly folded in between. In flight it is held folded in.
Green Herons have achieved recognition as one of a growing list of non-human animals that can be called “tool users”. These herons have been observed and photographed carrying food to where it can be dropped into water to lure fish into striking distance. Small fish, reptiles, amphibians and large aquatic insects do make up the bulk of their natural prey, although any small animal will do.
For a treat and more information about the Green Heron, please visit Barry’s website: http://www.barrykentmackay.ca/